Don’t judge a book by its pictures

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THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN…

About a week ago someone lovely tagged me in one of those ‘5 things you don’t know about me’ posts on Instagram and between you and me, I bloody dread them. I am such a secretive, complex human being, sometimes I shake my head in disbelief at the elaborate, fun and fashionable double life I’ve tried to create on that stylish square grid we call Instagram.

All sorts of thoughts started to go through my head…

AM I GOOD ENOUGH?…

‘Should I mention I work in healthcare but I find it unbearably stressful’.
‘Maybe I’ll tell everyone I’ve had one of the most challenging years of my life, a year that could be written into a plot line of Eastenders’.
‘Perhaps I’ll casually slip in that I’m pretty sure I have anxiety but I won’t admit it to myself because that would be admitting I suffer with some form of mental health problem and therefore must be a raving nutter’ (even though statistically 1 in 4 of us are …. but I’m willing to bet it’s much higher).

‘Nah, I know, I’ll just say something about liking red wine and German Shepherds and hope to sound interesting enough to my followers’.

Interesting enough. What the hell is interesting enough anyway? How can we decide this on an electronic device without any real human interaction? It seems (and is statistically proven) that these judgemental squares are affecting people’s happiness and self worth (including mine at times) And I HATE that. I HATE that I could be part of the problem for someone undoubtedly amazing who is sat at home suffering with FOMO thinking that my Instagram is shot in real time and that I’m sipping cocktails all day without a care in the world.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING

For me it all started a couple years back when a good (real life) friend showed me Insta on their phone. ‘You should totally get Instagram’ they beamed, as we drank Sauvignon Blanc together in my flat. I looked at the glossy pictures on her screen and loved the creative aspect. The photos all looked so pretty and interesting. I signed up there and then, took a picture of my Eggs Benedict later that day and that was that.

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WHAT IS INSTAGRAM?

But was that ‘that’? What exactly is Instagram and what effect is it having on us? This debate rears it’s argumentative head all too often. I’ve heard people talk about ‘keeping it real’. And I will be the first to hold my real life usually badly manicured hands up and say for me it just ISN’T real. How can it be? Insta is sharing snapshots of life, it can’t possibly show the in’s and out’s of someones relationships, goals, dreams, likes, dislikes, personality.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that some people want to share snippets of their lives, and take comfort from other lovely humans they meet on the squares in doing so, but that just isn’t me. It’s not why I joined this space.

I joined to get holiday and shoe inspiration. I joined to share pretty things and pretty places that inspire me. I joined to escape my real life at times and drift off into a picture perfect beach with a beautiful sunset with palm trees gently swaying.

If times were tough in the real world, I could just plug into an ideal life and post a picture of a pretty dress I’d bought. For me, Insta was a kind of therapy. Looking at pictures of other people’s stylish additions to their wardrobe (sometimes even seeing inside their perfect wardrobes). Notice how you’ve never seen mine – it’s a bloody shambles.

Now, I hear you say, who cares? Fair point really, but I guess my point is Insta is whatever the hell you want it to be – and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it.

PRETTY PICTURES

I personally am not comfortable airing my (extremely) ‘dirty laundry’ in public (sorry for the mental image ha!). Nor am I comfortable posting an unclear photo of an old sock in bad lighting which my Nan could take (no offence to my Nanna, she is an incredible woman and a total babe by the way). Does that mean I judge anyone else if they feel nice doing the exact opposite? Of course not. In fact, it makes me feel good seeing a shed load of variety and different ways in which we all like to express ourselves. Does that mean I should ‘keep it real’ and post more pictures in the community park outside my flat by the dog poo bins? Nah, that’s just not me babe 😂 and whilst we’re on the subject I probably won’t be mentioning when I have PMS, when I’ve had a shit show of a day, and when I feel insecure either as it just doesn’t fit in with my OOTD shots.

DON’T BE A WHINGEBAG

Now I realise I’m coming across like a bit of a Negative Nancy. And I really don’t want to sound that way at all. I’m lucky to have an incredible life filled with love and awesome people who make me happy, and I am grateful for that every single day. I am extremely lucky to have yummy food, a roof over my head and access to beautiful clothes which I’ve carefully accumulated over the years. I am also super grateful for (and still surprised by) all the lovely people who actually take an interest in what I wear. I am what you might call a lucky duck and I promise you I fully realise this.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I guess my takeaway message from this post for me and everyone who has an Instagram account/doesn’t want to beat themselves up in life is simply this: Instagram is NOT real life and it NEVER can be. The two are extremely but wonderfully different. The most perfect, well curated shots have usually taken a lot of effort, a well planned trip, mental anguish and incorporated an argument somewhere along the way 🤣😂.

And guys, if you should feel the weight of the squares resting heavy on your shoulders one day, I say unplug yourself. Put your phone on airplane mode. Get back to real life, get out in nature, stroke your pets, wear some ugly-assed clothes and hug your loved ones. But if you happen to catch me posting a picture in a new outfit with a beaming smile in a good light situation on a day when you’re feeling blue, please remember IT’S NOT REAL LIFE.

Peace out beauts,

Hannah
xox

P.s Special thanks to @lucysheridan (The Comparison Coach) for unknowingly inspiring this post and @thestylish_mrsmint for innocently tagging me and making me think about all things Insta.

 

2 thoughts on “Don’t judge a book by its pictures

  1. Hi 🙂 Just wanted to say what a great post and so real… That is exactly the issue with instagram it can be taken too seriously by those using it and viewing it. There should be some simple pleasure in what you view and the contacts networks tribes or whatever you yield from it but to relate to it as real life is something we have wrong. Judgement is the worst offender as you said who knows what is going on in the background a picture is a mere moment captured either spontaneously or though hours of prep who knows should we care? I would love to know what you do in healthcare 😉 xx

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